By Therresa Worthington
Brian Cornett is an 88-year-old, retired major with a twenty-four-year career in the Air Force, Mesquite resident, teacher of non-credit creative writing classes at the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) and self-published author.
The Major has written three books, one out of print and the other two were available Saturday, Sept. 11, for his book signing at Eureka Casino Resort’s JS Marchant event.
Cornett started writing years ago, as a teen and never really stopped as he was part of writer’s groups and guilds throughout his life, including a former president of the Idaho Writers’ League.
In fact, one meeting gave him a prompt about a dead person, which he wrote up in five minutes and then put away for fifteen years. One day he pulled it out and his creative juices started flowing – the COVID-19 pandemic also added it’s help to his muse — and he published his third book Innocent Victim in May.
“Never throw away your ideas,” he said with a laugh.
When asked what advice he would give to burgeoning writers, he had one answer, first and foremost.
“Write every day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what about or how long. Five minutes, fifteen minutes,” or whatever, just write every day.
Cornett also advised writers not to mince on research.
“Always do the research,” he said.
In Innocent Victim, Cornett’s main character is a Detective Lieutenant Alex Macarios, a character Cornett was able to derive from his research, as well as his relationships with police officers in his personal life.
While talking about writing styles, Cornett said there are two kinds of techniques writers go by – the outline and the pantser.
Writers who choose an outline style outline the book and the write the scenes and fill in the blanks based on the outline, changing the outline if, and when, needed.
The pantser style, however, is the path most often chosen by writers.
“You write by the seat of your pants,” he said. “You sit down and write what comes to you.”
Cornett said many famous authors write like this, including Stephen King.
“King said he rewrote one of his books fourteen times before it was done.”
But even seat-of-your-pants writing starts somewhere.
“Most writers have a general idea and they just let it flow,” he said.
Cornett said he writes scenes, then follows up with reactions to each scene, until it comes together.
He also uses 3X5 cards to take notes when he isn’t writing to keep track of ideas during his daily life, then he comes back to them when he writes.
“Always take copious notes,” he said.
Self-publishing can be a tricky, he said, but the best thing to do before jumping into that route of getting your work out there is to research the many avenues available.
As of now, Cornett’s books Innocent Victim and Swift Mission are on kindle, in audio book format as well as in print. His first book, Brass Rail – a collection of short stories — is no longer in print.
Retired Major Cornett highlights one thing any writer-to-be should keep in mind – it’s never too late to sit down and turn your life or imagination into written art.
The next CSN classes Cornett will be teaching are Creative Writing and Novel and Memoir Writing.
The Creative Writing class begins Sept. 20, Mondays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m., through Nov. 4, and costs $65.
Novel and Memoir Writing begins Oct. 18, also Mondays and Thursdays from 2 to 4 p.m., and costing $65.
Anyone wanting to take these or other classes can sign up by going to CSN, 140 N Yucca St, calling 702-346-2485 of going online at https://www.csn.edu/workforce-development.